A product design is a very important property that sometimes becomes a decisive factor by which consumers determine whether to buy that product.
Obtaining design protection through Design Registration is the most effective way to protect your product designs from abusive imitating by third parties and thereby maintain the competitive edge of your product in the market. However, to obtain a design right, you need to make an application to a Patent Bureau for a design registration to receive a qualification as the owner of your product design.
Moreover, to receive a design registration, you are required to satisfy certain conditions. For example, the design must not be identical or similar to other existing product designs (in other words, it must be novel); the design must not have been created by "easy" means, such as the simple combination of conventional designs.
You can obtain design rights for not only decorative designs but also for functional parts of your products. For example, if your product has a particular shape that is created by a special, unique or innovative technique, such design may be protected with a design right in addition to a patent right.
In such a case, the scope of design rights is more visible and easy to understand than that of patent rights because the former can be shown with drawings while the latter is described with words. Thus, as compared with patent rights, an advantage exists with design registration in that presence, or absence of infringement of design rights, is easily determined. Finally, design rights are easy to put into practical use.
Please feel free to contact Yamaguchi & Associates for anything you need about design registration.